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From Paralegal to Associate: How to Deal with the “Emotional Investment”

Last month, I discussed how to maintain your enthusiasm and your passion for the legal profession.   I have received so many positive feedbacks from the article, and some of the discussions I had on that subject prompted me to analyze further the issues of “Emotional Investment”.   How do you keep your boundaries?  How to keep yourself from becoming too invested emotionally into a client’s case? 

For some of us it is easy to do, for other it is hard not to become intertwined into your client’s case.  Some law practice are also more concerned than others.  Notably the practice of family law or estate litigation, where lawyers handle situations that really play to the heart.  Similarly, the practice of juvenile law or dependency are particular heavily charged emotionally. 

When you are passionate about your work, it is sometimes difficult to keep yourself from becoming emotionally invested in your client’s case.  To a certain degree, being emotionally invested makes you a better advocate, because you actually care enough to put the time and effort to see the case through all the different angles possible and unimaginable.  But, that emotional investment has to be moderated to maintain your effectiveness as a lawyer and to keep your boundaries into your private life.  You absolutely need to keep perspective at all time.

By its adversarial nature, the legal field will always have a winner and a loser on each side.  Losing a case will typically be a time where a lawyer will struggle the most.  But here again perspective is important.  Take a step back and realize that you do get to walk away from the loss.  The loss does not define you as a lawyer or your capacities as a lawyer.  Take a step back and learn the professional lessons of the loss. 

If you ever feel yourself getting too emotionally involved in a case, you may need to step away completely so that you can maintain your professional integrity. Lawyers who become too attached to a case or a client often exercise poor judgment, and those poor decisions could cost them their license.

Last but not least, remember to enjoy all the wins and the excitement that comes with the practice of law.  Keep your passion as this is what will give you the energy to keep pushing forward.  And for more tips on how to maintain that passion, please see my June column!  In the meantime, enjoy the summer and see you next month.

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